Am I Forcing Myself To Speak With a Native-like English Accent?

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hello my fellow foreign English speakers! The other day one of my YouTube followers asked me a question about my pronunciation and accent, here it is: Hi Robby, once again I've watched one of your first videos and compared to this one. The progress is amazing! But I want to ask you something - in your first videos you speak in a kind of casual, relaxed way but yes, your accent was much more significant. Though it didn't affect the clarity of your speech. Now you have moderated you speech and some people may take you for a native speaker. But I bet this current way of speaking requires more energy and self-control so you don't slip back into your native accent. Please, let me know if that is the case! Now, it's a very good question, so I guessed it definitely deserved a video response from me. Watch it above and enjoy my friends! Chat soon, Robby ;-)

English Schwa Sound [ə] – What It Is & How To Get It Right!

There was a time when I didn’t have a clue what the “schwa” [ə] sound was. I’d heard people say this strange word – “SCHWA” – and it got me thinking “What the hell are they talking about?! It must be something quite complicated because it sounds smart…” As is often the case though, the seemingly complicated matter turned out to be a very simple thing – the “schwa” [ə] sound is nothing more than an unstressed vowel sound which occurs in A LOT of English words: About [əˈbaut] Bank account [bæŋk əkaunt] I don’t know what to do! [ˈaɪ ˈdount ˈnou ˈhwat tə duː] Can you help me? [kən ju ˈhelp ˈmiː] So far so good, right? Well, turns out it’s not all that simple! ;-) There are a lot of languages in the world, and it’s not that easy for everyone to get the schwa sound just right. Recently, for example, I received a comment by one of my blog commentators Juhapekka in which he raises concerns over pronouncing the English schwa sound while being a Finnish speaker himself. (more…)

4 Strategies to Stop Stumbling Upon Words When Speaking in English

Unless you’re a super-fluent foreign English speaker, you most certainly find yourself in situations when you stumble upon certain English words and sentences which leaves you frustrated and angry with yourself, am I not right? ;-) Well, I’m not talking about the typical tongue-twisters here such as “she sells seashells by the seashore” (try to say it out loud fast a few times in a row – you’re bound to make a mistake sooner or later by saying “she shells..” or something similar!) What I’m going to be looking in this article is simple words and phrases which are still quite easy to mispronounce because of repeating letters or similar sounds following each other in a quick succession: World Wide Web (letters “d” and “b” as well as the ‘R’ sound) I brought the bad goods back (letters “b” and “g”) What a wonderful world! (‘R’ sound) What happens sometimes when saying such and similar English sentences is the following – just because you’re trying to pronounce each sound within those words, your sound producing organs suddenly can’t cope with it, and that’s when you can implement various strategies I’m going to look at in this article. Let’s say, if you can’t get the sentence “What a wonderful world!” right and your tongue and lips just can’t seem to pronounce it correctly, you can re-write the sentence in your mind the following way: “Whada wondeful wold”. Try it, and you’ll realize that if you omit the letter “r”, (the ‘R’ sound isn’t that audible in this sentence anyway!) it becomes much easier for you to pronounce the sentence without getting your tongue twisted and you’re less likely to stumble upon words in the process. Bear in mind that I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to pronounce English words the right way. It’s just that I believe if you have to choose between struggling when speaking AND speaking freely albeit with a slightly incorrect pronunciation, you should go with the last option if your ability to speak fluently is very important at that particular moment in time. But now let’s look at some examples on how you can modify English words and sentences so that you can pronounce them easier :!: (more…)

Learn Pronunciation by Equating English Sounds to Your Native Language!

Check Out My NEW Blog AccentAdventure.com!

I started EnglishHarmony.com back in 2007 – so it’s almost 5 years in operation! This year, however, marks the birth of another blog of mine – namely, AccentAdventure.com! It’s a new blog I started earlier this summer, and it’s dedicated to learning different English accents. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know my stance on pronunciation and accent related issues. The advice I always give to my fellow foreigners is – “Speak the way you’re comfortable, don’t try to bend over backwards just to get your English pronunciation perfect because you’re running the risk of ruining your English fluency!” Having said this, however, I’ve NEVER ENCOURAGED my fellow foreign English speakers to NEGLECT the pronunciation aspect of their spoken English; I’ve never said – “Who cares about pronunciation, speak however you want!” A lot of people have misinterpreted my advice and I’ve received quite a few comments blaming me for sending out the wrong message. And I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to receive a couple comments on this video blog post saying that I’m being a hypocrite by first telling everyone not to care about proper pronunciation and then learning to speak like an American which obviously contradicts my previous claims! Now, let me get this one straight. The purpose of the AccentAdventure.com blog is to show that it is POSSIBLE to learn to speak like an American, Brit, Australian or any other native English speaker if you invest enough time and effort into the process! Also, I want to use this new blog as a platform to reveal popular misconceptions surrounding accent acquisition – same way I’m using this blog to show how ineffective traditional studies are when it comes to oral English fluency. For instance, I don’t believe it’s necessary to focus on accent reduction; this term is wrong! I also think it’s totally wrong to learn pronunciation by learning what way certain English vowels can be pronounced etc. It’s 100 times more efficient to learn how to pronounce certain words and sentences; if you learn to analyze separate sounds and how they can be pronounced you’ll end up in a ‘paralysis by analysis’ situation! So, basically if you’re interested in certain tips and tricks on improving your English pronunciation and accent – definitely make sure to check out my new blog at AccentAdventure.com! Robby ;-)

Crash Course in American English Pronunciation & Slang: Interview With Anthony from AmericanAnthony.com!

Should Japanese and Vietnamese English Speakers Bend Over Backwards to Get Their Pronunciation Right?

I have customers from all over the world – Brazil, the United States, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Arab Emirates – you name it! Also, the native background of the English Harmony System’s owners is as diverse as the countries they reside in. I have Arabic and Chinese speaking customers from the States, Hindi speakers from the UK and Brazilian Portuguese speakers who live in Australia. It just goes to show how widespread the English fluency issue is and how often foreign English speakers have developed their understanding and reading skills at the cost of their spoken fluency just because it’s a conventional wisdom that one needs to focus on reading and writing in order to become fluent. It’s wrong, of course, and that’s what the English Harmony System does – it rearranges your English knowledge by forming natural English speech patterns so that you can speak more fluently and confidently. Anyway, there’s one aspect the English Harmony System doesn’t cover, and I don’t touch upon it on my blog often, either. Namely, it’s English pronunciation. Well, I actually do mention pronunciation when it comes to discussing fluency and the fact that many foreigners are trying to speak with perfect pronunciation which may actually have quite the opposite effect on their ability to speak fluently. In other words, I’m always saying that you have to speak and pronounce English words in a way most comfortable to you, and that you don’t have to be too hung up on being perfect  :!: But then one day I got an e-mail from one of my Japanese customers and it got me thinking if there might be more to the pronunciation aspect than I had thought. (more…)